India News Network
ADDRESSING a crowded press conference at Patna on April 28 afternoon, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury appealed to the secular parties to unite for the formation of a secular, non-Congress government at the centre. In this context he reminded that all the governments formed at the centre since 1996 have been coalition governments. This press conference was the last item in the CPI(M) leader’s three-day election programme; soon after the election campaign for the third phase of polls in the state also ended.
Earlier, Yechury made an appeal to the people, through another press conference, to send the CPI’s nominee to the Lok Sabha from Begusarai. The appeal underlined the mutual understanding reached by the Left parties in the state. It is because of this understanding among the CPI(M), CPI and CPI(ML) that Shatrughna Prasad Singh, a veteran CPI leader, was reportedly having an upper hand in Begusarai, giving a tough time to the JD(U)-BJP as well as the RJD-LJP candidate.
The appeal made by Yechury on the eve of the last phase of polling in the state, though it involved a change in the CPI(M) leader’s pre-planned itinerary, added to the enthusiasm with which the Left cadre were running their poll campaign in the state.
Polling would take place for 11 seats in the third phase (April 30), while the last three seats would go to polls in the fourth phase (May 7). Polling had earlier taken place in 13 seats in the first and second phases each.
Out of the five seats the CPI(M) is contesting in the state, two would go to polls in the third phase. These are Bhagalpur and Supaul.
Yechury’s itinerary in the state started on April 26, from Bhagalpur. Former Lok Sabha member and an important kisan leader, Subodh Rai, is the CPI(M) candidate here. Rai represented the seat from 1999 to 2004 while he was at second position in the 2004 polls, with more than 30 per cent of the votes polled. The area has been an old mass base of the Communist Party, with a tradition of land struggles. While the CPI(M) has its organisation in a large part of the rural areas here, the CPI too has its presence in some pockets. The understanding reached among the Left parties has, therefore, enhanced the chances of the CPI(M) candidate’s victory this time. The coming together of the Left parties has also enthused the weavers of this traditional textile centre. These people, most of them Muslims, have been facing a severe crisis for years together.
In Bhagalpur, the BJP has again put up Shahnawaz Hussein, known as the Muslim mask of this communal party. He was the lone Muslim among the BJP members in 14th Lok Sabha. In 2004, he had promised to make Bhagalpur a secure city and ensure the availability of power and civic amenities, among other things, but he did precious little to fulfil his assurances, which has angered the people of the area. The RJD-LJP alliance has put up Shakuni Chaudhari who is notorious for petty politicking and jugglery, just what his name suggests. In contrast to both, the CPI(M)’s nominee is known for his clean and fighting image, and his stint in Lok Sabha further added to this image. Not surprisingly, Rai is giving both the alliances a tough fight.
On April 26, in support of Subodh Rai, Yechury addressed mass meetings at the headquarters of the Kahalgaon and Nathnagar assembly segments of Bhagalpur Lok Sabha seat, appealing to the people of Bihar to make their precious contribution to the political change the whole country is waiting for. He pointed out that there is no guarantee of implementation of alternative pro-people policies if a secular, non-Congress government is not installed at the centre. This demands that a large number of representatives of the Left are sent to the Lok Sabha.
Yechury forcefully rebuffed the criticism that attempts to form a secular, non-Congress alternative go in the favour of the BJP only. He reminded that it was only the Congress party’s omissions and commissions which brought the BJP to power in several states since 2004. on the contrary, the BJP has been unable to open its account in the three states which are the Left strongholds. It is only because the Left is able to provide a secular alternative to the Congress in these states.
Another oft-repeated criticism is that the politics of a third alternative involves political instability. Rebuffing this criticism, Yechury pointed out that it was the supporting parties that destabilised the third front governments in the past. That is why the CPI(M) has appealed to the people to give a decisive mandate for a secular alternative this time.
CPI(M) candidate Subodh Rai and its state secretariat member, Sarvodaya Sharma, also addressed these meetings.
On April 27, Yechury had had, in a sense, road shows in the Bepur and Gopalpur assembly segments in the same Lok Sabha constituency. He addressed five meetings while passing through these assembly constituencies. The latter were recently added to Bhagalpur Lok Sabha seat.
Yechury’s next programme was in the Supaul constituency in Kosi division, where he addressed mass meetings at Jadia, Chhatapur and Triveniganj in favour of the CPI(M)’s Balram Singh Yadav, widely known as a militant kisan leader.
Supaul is distinct from other Lok Sabha constituencies in Bihar and has an importance of its own. The reason is that here the CPI(M) candidate, supported by the entire Left, is contesting from behind the bars. Balram Singh Yadav was arrested as soon as he came out of the Election Office after filing his nomination papers. Then the state administration tried all means at its disposal to ensure that he could not come out of jail before the polling ended. It is another thing that the ruling coterie is unable to face the wave of opposition that this conspiracy of somehow keeping Yadav in jail has evoked.
After the devastating floods in the Kosi river last year, the victims were unable to get the relief that had been announced by the central as well as state government, and the people’s mobilisation for the announced relief led to a gherao of the government’s foodgrains godown in Raghopur by tens of thousands of people. But when the administration still failed to come to its senses, the agitating people invaded the godown and distributed the grains among the flood victims. It is in that case that a criminal case was filed and more than three dozen leading CPI(M) and Kisan Sabha workers have been kept in jail for more than three months. Though Yadav was not in Raghopur on the day the said incident occurred, he was implicated in it under a well-thought out conspiracy, and later arrested and jailed in mid-March.
However, Yadav’s role in the whole struggle for flood relief is well known in the constituency and his candidature for the Lok Sabha has given a boost to the agitating flood victims’ morale. It is now being viewed as a part of the peasant population’s struggle here, and as a symbol of resistance to the whole cycle of the Nitish government’s repression. Yadav’s candidature is also posing a challenge to the ruling class politics of opportunism which today the wife of Pappu Yadav, a notorious criminal, represents here. It is known all over that this lady is nothing but a mask for her husband’s political ambitions. Incidentally, Pappu Yadav’s wife was last time elected from Supaul on the ticket of the Lok Janshakti Party of Ram Vilas Paswan, but the couple deserted the latter on the eve of the latest poll process and joined the Congress.
It was therefore in the fitness of things that the series of CPI(M)’s mass meetings in this important Lok Sabha constituency concluded with one addressed by Yechury.
Earlier, CPI(M) central committee member and All India Democratic Women’s Association president, Subhashini Ali, addressed five mass meetings on April 14 and 25, in favour of the party candidate here. Before her, on April 21, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat had addressed election meetings of the party in Kumarkhand and Singheshwar.